ENVT4403 Coastal and Estuarine Processes

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Honours core unit in Marine Science [Bachelor of Science (Honours)]
  • Honours option in Environmental Science; Marine Science [Bachelor of Science (Honours)]
Our coasts and estuaries serve as the highly valued interface between terrestrial and marine environments and are under ever increasing pressure around the globe from a variety of factors. Through developing an understanding of the fundamental processes controlling coastal and estuarine ecosystem dynamics, we can quantify their ability to cope with human stresses. In this unit students examine the natural physical and bio-geochemical processes occurring in wave-exposed coastal environments and tide-driven estuaries. In the first section of the unit, topics include ocean wave properties, spectral wave characteristics, wave generation, linear wave theory, nonlinear wave characteristics, wave transformation, numerical wave models, the dynamics of the wave boundary layer, sediment transport fundamentals, coastline development (cross-shore and alongshore), and natural- and human-induced coastline changes. In the second section, the unit transitions into estuarine environments and topics include physical processes that govern estuarine mixing, followed by detail on bio-geochemical processes that shape water quality, and finally an overview of the importance of aquatic food webs and ecosystem response pathways to anthropogenic disturbance.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate a knowledge of the core physical and bio-geochemical processes shaping coastal and estuarine environments; (2) understand how to measure and monitor processes operating in coastal environments; and (3) appreciate the link between coastal and estuarine processes and planning and management issues.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) three problem sets (10 per cent each); (2) two field trip reports (17.5 per cent each); and (3) a final project (35 per cent). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Jeffrey Hansen
Unit rules
enrolment in Master of Environmental Science (72530)
Master of Hydrogeology (72540)
Master of Geographic Information Science (71570)
Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BH004)
Advisable prior study:
EART3337 Coastal Environments
ENSC3502 Physical Oceanography
ENVT3307 Oceanography
Contact hours
The total workload is 150 hours.
Unit Outline
Non-standard teaching period [TS-TP-1_2019]
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.